Of Apps and Schnapps
Even from the days of the Garden of Eden it has been documented that humanity has a terrible weakness for Apples. Liz Paratz takes a look at the appeal of the iPhone for the Jewish user.
iPhones Part 1
So far, the 21st century appears to be the era when existential philosophy updated its status to ‘iPhone, therefore I am.’ The Ultimate Gadget stands miles ahead of all previous mobile phones – to be scrupulously exact, it makes them look like just a bunch of shoe phones.
Of course, the iPhone’s dominance is now threatened by multiple other tech companies and soon enough the iPhone will probably be just another phone amongst a range of similarly incredible super-phones. But for now it stands alone and unchallenged. It’s an iCon. It’s addictive. It’s cutting-edge (although sadly not cut-price).
Key to the extreme desirability of the iPhone is the concept of the ‘app’, where third parties can develop software applications to be bought and installed on the phone. Software developers around the world have created a flood of ‘apps’, and now the App Store now lists almost 134, 000 of them. The future has come to us, and it turns out it really IS a Planet of the Apps.
Of course, it was only a short time before Jewish apps started popping up. Now, Israeli software developers, tech-savvy rabbis and the lovely people at Birthright have all developed apps to ensure that, wherever you are, all the Jewish resources you could ever need are just a finger-slide away.
This list is an update on ten of the most used and useful Jewish apps. The reality is, though, that this list is just the tip of the Eisberg. There are many many more ‘best-of’ lists circulating out on the internet, and now even a website called JewishiPhoneCommunity.org (surely the most recent breakaway sub-group within the Jewish community).
So, here is just one of many lists of ‘Good Jewish Apps’ –
1. iBlessing : This is pretty self-explanatory. A plate of all different kinds of food appears on the screen and upon touching the kind you’re about to consume, the correct blessing appears. You get to choose to say the blessing in either Hebrew or English, and the iPhone can say it along with you. Netilat Yadayim and bentsching are also included in the app.
2. Kosher : For kosher travellers, this app could be invaluable. Users can discover all the kosher restaurants in a city, with information even including the restaurant’s hasgacha and relevant blessings in Ashkenaz, Sefard, Edot Mizrach and Chabad.
3. Synagogue : Again, fabulous for religious travellers. This uses GPS technology to find all the synagogues in the city for you. Full demographic data is given, including affiliation (ie, Reform v Orthodox) and even the number of households in the congregation.
4. Parve-O-Meter : This timer counts down the time between eating milk and meat. The timer can be adjusted for your level of religiousness, going all the way up the scale to ‘Chassidic’. At the end of the period, a congratulatory bell rings.
5. Mizrach Compass : Basically, just a compass with a few bells and whistles to make it a ‘Jewish app’. This app calculates the direction of Jerusalem from any position. It plots the Kodesh Hakodashim (31° 46′ 40.8″ N, 35° 14′ 7.44″ E) as its reference point.
6. iGrogger : Pertinent to Purim….if your arthritis is getting in the way of shaking your grogger as loudly as possible, this app reproduces that horribly loud rattle at full volume to ensure that Haman’s name will never be heard. You get to build the grogger from multiple backgrounds, materials and textures and there are several options on sounds.
7. iBubbe : (Why would you?) This is described on appshopper.com as ‘the premiere virtual Jewish grandmother for the iPhone’ She comes with over 50 quotes and offers ‘advice, nagging and traditional Jewish songs’.
8. Pocket Luach : This is essentially a calendar, with the capacity to convert dates on the Jewish calendar to and from the regular calendar. It also lists the Parsha for each week and all Yomim Tovim.
9. Shabbat Clock : Very clever technology. This app allows religious Jews to use an alarm on Shabbat. The alarm is set in advance, and plays for only 1 minute. Prescheduled calls can even be made using the app. Obviously though, you can’t hit the snooze button.
10. Guess Who’s Jewish : On the lighter side, this app flips up images of 2 celebrities and asks you to pick which one is Jewish. It’s a time-filling on-hold-with-a-call-centre kind of game. And probably quite addictive.
iPhones Part 2 [now with free food]
But of course the power of the app is shaking up many fields beyond the Jewish community. In the medical world for example, many medical apps – ECG interpreters, anatomy atlases, and drug dosage calculators – offer a huge helping hand to forgetful time-pressured health-care workers. But with that much information at their fingertips, will patients even need doctors as much in the first place? Could it be that, in 2010, using an Apple product a day can keep the doctors away?
If you’re interested in this topic, want to catch up with fellow health-care professionals or are just feeling hungry on Sunday March 21st, you should absolutely come along to Young AJMF’s free medical comedy ‘Great Debate’ evening.
This year’s topic – ‘That iPhones will destroy medicine as we know it,’ – will be debated by a team of ‘Doctors’ versus a team of ‘Medical Students’.
The function, organized by Young AJMF [the Australasian Jewish Medical Federation], is the society’s first social event of 2010 and is open to all health professionals and students. Partners are of course also welcome.
A gourmet kosher supper will be provided and the event is free of charge. To RSVP and find out location details etc, please join the Facebook group ‘Young AJMF’ and join the event page, or email email@example.com . We look forward to seeing you there.
*Acknowledgements to Apptism.com and Dorit Murray